Soil acidification is a serious challenge and a major cause of declining soil and crop productivity in the Eastern parts of South Africa (SA). An incubation experiment investigated effects of different maize residue biochar rates on selected soil properties and soil loss in acidic Hutton soils. Biochar amendment rates were 0%, 2.5%, 5%, 7.5%, and 10% (soil weight) laid as a completely randomized design. Soil sampling was done on a 20-day interval for 140 days to give a 5 × 7 factorial experiment. Rainfall simulation was conducted at 60, 100 and 140 days after incubation to quantify soil loss. Relative to the control biochar amendments significantly improved soil physicochemical properties. After 140 days, biochar increased soil pH by between 0.34 to 1.51 points, soil organic carbon (SOC) by 2.2% to 2.34%, and microbial activity (MBC) by 496 to 1615 mg kg−1
compared to control. Soil aggregation (MWD) changes varied from 0.58 mm to 0.70 mm for the duration of the trial. Soil loss significantly decreased by 27% to 70% under biochar amendment compared to control. This indicates that maize residue biochar application has the potential to improve the soil properties and reduce soil loss in the degraded acidic Hutton soil.
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